Private hospitals seek meeting with govt as Covid cases soar

Wednesday September 16 2020

Patients and caretakers line up to wash hands before accessing Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital in western Uganda on July 2. PHOTO | ABUBALER LUBOWA

By Franklin Draku

The Uganda National Association of Private Hospitals is seeking audience with the Ministry of Health over the growing number of Covid-19 patients who are receiving treatment at their facilities.
Dr Denis Kimalyo, the association’s executive director, yesterday said their facilities are incurring costs in equiping laboratories, isolation centres and buying protective gears for their health workers before the patients are referred to government hospitals.
“Managing Covid-19 has really pushed our costs of operations very high. The charges either go to the patients or they are immediately referred to government hospitals,” Dr Kimalyo said.  
While government initially said all cases will be handled by the government hospital, increasing number of patients are being tested positive in private health facilities with hospitals such as Mengo, Rubaga, Nsambya and a number of other private hospitals all registering cases. 
The association wants government to provide more personal protective equipment (PPEs) and incur other costs in mitigating the pandemic. 
More than 163 health workers in both government and private hospitals have tested positive for  Covid-19  and the numbers are expected to rise as more community infections take toll.  Dr Kimalyo said a huge challenge lies ahead when it comes to protecting health workers. 
“We have requested for a meeting this Thursday with the director of health services and the line minister. We want to harmonise on whether private facilities can handle some of the patients,” he added.
It is not clear if the ministry has accepted the position of the private hospitals. 
Mr Emmanuel Ainebyoona, the spokesperson at the Ministry of Health, said: “I will have to first confirm when and whether that meeting has been scheduled, but we have been having engagements with all the private hospitals on how to manage the pandemic. We certainly look forward to that meeting.” 
Uganda had by Monday registered 4,799 positive cases of Covid-19, with 2,256 recoveries and 55 deaths.